Ribeye steak, also known as entrecôte, is considered by many to be the most flavorful cut of beef. It is cut from the rib section, in the upper ribcage between ribs 6 through 12. Ribeye steaks are known for their rich marbling, which results in an exceptionally tender, juicy and flavorful meat. However, cooking ribeye steak to perfection can be tricky. There are varying opinions on what temperature is ideal for baking ribeye steak. The right baking temperature ensures the meat cooks evenly while retaining moisture and achieving the desired level of doneness.
What is the ideal internal temperature for ribeye steak?
Most chefs recommend cooking ribeye steak to an internal temperature between 125-135°F (52-57°C) for medium-rare doneness. Here are the common target internal temperatures based on desired doneness level:
- Rare: 120-125°F (49-52°C)
- Medium rare: 125-135°F (52-57°C)
- Medium: 135-145°F (57-63°C)
- Medium well: 145-155°F (63-68°C)
- Well done: 155°F+ (68°C+)
Medium rare is often cited as the ideal doneness for ribeye steak. At this stage, the center is still pink and hot with reddish juices flowing. The meat is very tender and juicy. Most of the fat has rendered to further enhance flavor. Going above 135°F risks overcooking the steak and drying it out.
Why medium rare is best for ribeye
There are several reasons an internal temperature of 125-135°F is recommended for ribeye steak:
- Allows fat to render – The marbling needs adequate heat to melt into the meat and keep it moist.
- Prevents toughening – Cooking to over 140°F can make the meat fibers shrink and toughen.
- Retains juices – The steak remains tender and succulent at lower internal temps.
- Enhances flavor – Medium rare steak has a milder, more balanced flavor.
- Avoids safety issues – E. coli and other pathogens are killed by 125°F.
For most people, medium rare offers the ideal balance of taste, texture and juiciness when cooking ribeye steak. The slightly pink center provides the best mouthfeel and flavor experience.
How to determine if ribeye steak is done
Using a meat thermometer is the most reliable way to determine doneness when baking ribeye steak. Simply insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the steak away from bone to get an accurate internal temperature reading. Checking temperature in multiple spots is recommended since ovens can have hot and cold spots.
If a thermometer is not available, use the touch test. Lightly press the steak with tongs or a finger – a rare steak will feel soft with no resistance, while a well-done steak will be firm. Here is a guide on determining doneness without a thermometer:
|Doneness Level||Touch Test||Visual Cues|
|Rare||Very soft and spongy||Bright red center|
|Medium Rare||Soft with less give||Warm deep pink center|
|Medium||Firm with some spring||Hot pink center|
|Medium Well||Very firm with little give||Slight pink center|
|Well Done||Hard with no give||No pink center|
Cutting into the steak to check its color is not recommended as it will cause juices to run out. Use the methods above to test doneness instead.
What oven temperature is best for baking ribeye steak?
Most chefs recommend setting the oven temperature between 250-275°F when baking ribeye steak. This relatively low and slow method allows the meat to cook evenly without overcooking the outer portions before the center reaches the target temperature.
Here are some tips on choosing the ideal oven temperature for ribeye steak:
- Aim for 250°F if steak is 1-1.5 inches thick – This gives ample time for the inside to come to temperature.
- Use 275°F for steaks under 1 inch thick – The higher heat helps cook smaller cuts evenly.
- Allow oven to fully preheat – Place steak in only once oven has reached set temp.
- Check internal temp early – Begin checking after 15 min; bake longer if needed.
- Let steak rest after baking – This allows juices to redistribute for maximum tenderness and flavor.
Baking ribeye steak is slower than grilling or pan frying, but produces very tender, evenly cooked results. The moderate oven temperature is the key to getting the steak done to perfection.
Why a low oven temp works best
Using a lower oven temperature between 250-275°F accomplishes several things:
- Cooks evenly – The steak has time for the heat to penetrate without burning the exterior.
- Retains moisture – A high oven temp causes moisture loss and a drier steak.
- Renders fat – The marbling melts slowly to distribute flavor.
- Avoids overdone edges – cooler air prevents the outer portions from cooking too fast.
- Allows seasoning penetration – Spices and rubs have time to absorb for maximum flavor.
While quick high-heat methods like grilling can also produce juicy steaks, the more gradual oven heating helps ensure uniform doneness with a tender, moist interior and properly rendered fat.
How long to bake ribeye steak
The baking time for ribeye steak depends on the thickness of the cut as well as the desired doneness. Here are some general timelines based on a 250°F oven temperature:
|Steak Thickness||Doneness||Bake Time|
|1 inch||Rare||15-18 minutes|
|1 inch||Medium Rare||18-22 minutes|
|1.5 inches||Medium Rare||22-28 minutes|
|2 inches||Medium Rare||28-35 minutes|
These timeframes assume the oven is fully preheated before cooking. Always rely on an instant-read thermometer to check for your desired internal temperature rather than just cooking time.
For any thickness steak, begin checking temperature about 5 minutes before the low end of the estimated range. This ensures you catch it at the right moment for your preferred doneness. Let the steak rest tented with foil for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Tips for baking ribeye steak
Follow these tips to achieve perfectly cooked ribeye steak in the oven every time:
- Bring steak to room temp before baking – This helps it cook evenly.
- Thoroughly preheat oven to 250-275°F.
- Use a meat thermometer for best accuracy.
- Flip steak once halfway through cooking.
- Allow steak to rest before cutting into it.
- Check for doneness 5 minutes early – You can always bake longer if needed.
Choosing an appropriate low oven temperature and using a thermometer produces tender, evenly cooked ribeye steaks with the ideal color, texture and juiciness.
Baking ribeye steak in the oven can deliver incredibly flavorful results when done properly. For most cooks, setting the oven to 250-275°F and cooking the steak to an internal temperature of 125-135°F for medium rare doneness provides the ideal balance of taste and tenderness. Checking with a meat thermometer and allowing the steak to rest ensures it turns out perfectly juicy and tender with a beautiful reddish-pink center.
Preheating the oven fully, flipping the steak halfway, and sticking to recommended cooking times based on thickness will take the guesswork out of baking ribeye steaks. While grilling and pan searing are also great options, using a moderately low oven temperature produces very reliable, even and tender results every time.
With the right preparation, cooking time, and target internal temperature, ribeye steak can be baked to mouthwatering perfection. The moderate doneness, juiciness and rendered fat provides a sublime taste and texture that steak lovers crave.